New Year’s is rapidly approaching and so, this being Holland, yesterday we picked up a load of fireworks to let off on the eve of the 31st. New Year’s in The Netherlands is really an impressive fireworks spectacle starting on the dot pretty much at midnight, and continuing on for roughly two hours. As I sit here writing this, the run-up to New Years has already begun, as all round the neighborhood I can hear teenagers and younger kids tossing fire crackers and bangers around. As a precaution, the postal service either removes or seals up the post boxes to avoid having them blown up by the little darlings. Having been denied that source of amusement, they have to settle for throwing them at each other, and at passing cars as well as putting them up exhaust pipes etc. of cars parked at the side of the road. Its no surprise that injuries do happen, but interestingly for the most part no one seems much to be bothered by their behaviour
In Canada (and most other places these days) fireworks of any size have been banned for many years, but here you can buy incredible varieties of different devices ! Rockets, mortars, bangers, star shells, fire crackers, and meshes – you name it. For an idea of what’s on offer see the catalogue we ordered from at http://www.cafferata.nl/Cafferata2/Folder20052006deel2.pdf . The laws here were changed after about 100 tons of fireworks went off by accident in 2000 at a fireworks factory in the north of The Netherlands at Enschede, and now fireworks sales are limited to just a few days prior to New Years. This of course encourages people to drive to Belgium where the fireworks are sold year round, and also are reputed to be more powerful than those sold locally. Smuggling of illegal Belgium fireworks into The Netherlands is big business and in the first week of December roughly 23,000 kilos of smuggled fireworks were intercepted by the Dutch authorities.
Once the Netherlands New Years gets started, it is most impressive with the sky fully lit up with star shells and dazzlers starting right at midnight, with the accompanying roar of literally hundreds and hundreds of explosions. Mesh fireworks of several hundred firecrackers get set off in street intersections and seem to continue firing away for ever, and for days afterwards the red chaff covers the streets and sidewalks. It must sound and possibly look like a rolling artillery barrage as it gets under way over each city in The Netherlands, and if the night is clear and still, then the gun powder haze gets thick and can be seen blanketing the houses amidst the flashes. And possibly most impressive is that people are usually firing off all this stuff from their little row house front or rear yard of just a few square meters ! Amazing.
New years and The Netherlands – if you get a chance, try to see one before fireworks are banned here as well – its an unforgettable experience !